A 16-year-old girl is on her way to law school at Southern Methodist University.
Haley Taylor Schlitz, of Fort Worth, will graduate college this spring and is headed to SMU’s Dedman School of Law this fall.
SMU officials said Haley is the youngest student in recent memory to attend their law school. Despite her age, admissions counselors say they couldn’t ignore her impressive resume of academics and extracurriculars.
“What’s the next step people go to, after college what’s next? It’s like grad school, it’s like ok let’s do that, let’s go,” Haley said.
It was after 5th grade that Haley’s parents noticed their normally straight-A student was somewhat bored attending traditional middle school and started home schooling her.
“She really took off. One summer she taught herself geometry and six weeks. I think that’s when my wife and I just kind of looked at each other like oh wow, this is much bigger than we ever imagined it would be,” dad William Schlitz said.
At age 11 - she started high school. By 13, she blew through the high school curriculum and was ready to start college. She was eventually accepted to 17 different schools and attended Texas Woman’s University.
So naturally, law school seemed like the logical next step.
“I was like what’s one way I can get deeper into my own education and really have credentials, strong credentials to go out there and make a change in society? And I was like, that sounds like a lawyer,” Haley said.
Her parents were a little taken aback when she made up her mind to apply to law school. But they were supportive the whole way as she got accepted to nine law schools. She wound up choosing SMU so she could stay at home and go to school.
“Like wow, she did this. Getting ready to go to SMU Law? It’s truly, we’re honestly speechless most of the time,” Schlitz said.
Her application even took some of the admissions counselors by surprise.
“Law school is an intense academic environment, it is pretty high pressure. So you think about the age, I think, when you’re evaluating. But her package was so strong we had no doubt she’d be able to be successful,” said Jennifer Collins, dean of SMU Dedman School of Law.
Haley credits her parents with never saying no when it came to advancing in school.
“In all honesty she’s a normal 16 year old. She plays video games with her siblings, she’s in a lot of clubs and activities, she likes to hang out with her girlfriends. If you didn’t know where she went to school, you’d have no idea she wasn’t just a normal 16 year old,” Schlitz said.
Haley said everyone should shoot for the stars.
“The sky’s the limit and even beyond, if you think you can do it and you want to do it, you have a passion, then do it,” Haley said.
Haley hasn’t settled on what she wants to do once she gets her law degree but she plans to practice law and would someday like to open a school to help other gifted students.